Season 1, Episode 16
Date of airing: January 14, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.0 million viewers, 5.4/8 in Households, 4.0/10 with Adults 18-49
I’m surprised that Ryan wasn’t punching the wall at the very end, putting a bunch of holes in it like my father used to with the door he hit after his daughters were a little unruly and didn’t listen to him (that hole in the door remained there until we moved out of the flat, always reminding us all of the potential abuse we could have gotten if things had gone horribly wrong). The guy needed to put his anger and frustration somewhere and he definitely couldn’t do that into Oliver’s face, even if he really wanted to (as well as Luke, and probably all the viewers, too). Yet the guy was just standing there. He closed the door behind him, had a weird facial expression, hard rock music was playing, and Ryan didn’t do anything except be angry in his head. Ryan Atwood, you are the weakest boy in town, although maybe that is exactly who the character is, even though he started fights en masse during the first few episodes (three out of four times he traded fists with Luke, it was Ryan who started the fights, not to mention the tiny soccer incident). Ryan actually had reason to speak up here, but consider myself shocked that he wasn’t able to form his suspicions into words and let at least Marissa know that something is clearly mentally wrong with Oliver, and that Marissa definitely shouldn’t stay overnight or just let her know that something is seriously mentally wrong with Oliver.
Meanwhile, Oliver has definitely become the villain in this episode, beginning with his fine moment of hiding the photo of Marissa and Ryan behind a photo of Marissa and her father, going over to manipulating events that lead Oliver to some alone time with Marissa, and ending with his fake suicide attempt. The only thing that was missing in this entire scenario was a Trump-like thumbs up to Ryan, suggesting that his plan of removing Marissa from Ryan is working. Marissa is his now, and Ryan can either piss off and cry in a back alley or start trading fists and lose Marissa for good (as well as all of Newport Beach, because it would break his parole and he’s back in juvie). Of course, Oliver has some kind of fascination with Marissa, but I was wondering if he tried to stir up Ryan into beating him up so he would get arrested and had to leave town again, or if Oliver is just nuts in general and all he wants is to take the girl away from a boy, because it’s what he does best. It would definitely be a great masterplan.
The threesome storyline bored me this time around, and I grew quickly annoyed with it. And not just that, Seth and Anna together were actually annoying as well. Their banter in the bedroom was worthy of many eyerolls, and I was totally with Summer in that moment — all I wanted was to get the hell out of that bedroom and go cry in a back alley, because I had to go through this nightmare of a banter of a couple romantically involved and I couldn’t escape from it. I’m starting to think that Seth and Anna couldn’t be less perfect for each other. I’m also starting to think the writers stopped giving Anna character moments, which means she becomes this plot device for Seth and Summer and stopped being her own character (which she barely was to begin with, but I always had hope she would when she and Summer were vying for Seth’s affection). She had some, when her story was all about getting with Seth, and getting Summer out of her way, but now that story has concluded, she has become a boring and hair-pulling character. Now I’m actually praying for a quick break-up, so we can move on from here and let Summer have her chance with Seth.
And the story of the adults? Well, it turns out that Hailey had no business being in the show, since her story did not affect anyone. Sure, there was some drama here and there, she flirted with Ryan just a little bit, she gave Kirsten a few moments of depth that she wasn’t able to use, yet I don’t think that recent events has changed their relationship, let alone Kirsten’s relationship with her father. Why wasting a character like that for three episodes when there is no outcome or aftermath to it all? Or was it just a way to get Kirsten and Julie to bond over something, even if it’s weird to see them bond over something? Hailey came and left town, and she had nothing to show for it, as everything is still where it was when she arrived.
But I did like Sandy and Jimmy’s story a little. Even though I’m laughing a bit that Sandy is going from one job to another (similar to how Jimmy was going from one woman to another, similar to how Marissa was walking from one love interest to another), the premise of Jimmy and Sandy doing a restaurant kind of intrigues me, and not just because the two men have turned from sorta-adversaries to sorta-best friends, with the option of adversaries again, if the restaurant idea is not gonna pan out or Jimmy and Kirsten are going to start hanging out again (yes, I am surprised that Sandy just forgot all about that incident and considered Jimmy his friend now). Yes, running a restaurant is a boring story for a soap opera, but who knows if the premise can lead to something, despite a nice plot device to keep Jimmy in Newport Beach logically, and not have him go through financial rock bottom. He already went crying in a back alley, so it’s time for him to dry up those tears and get moving again.